Per Share Price Is Not as Important Market Cap explained by professional forex trading experts the “ForexSQ” FX trading team.
Why Per Share Price Is Not as Important Market Cap
There’s a common misconception that per-share price is as important as market cap when it comes to investing in a stock, but this is incorrect. With this overview, learn why market cap should be your key consideration when evaluating a stock because it tells you the value of a company.
The Per-Share Price Fallacy
Why is a stock that cost $50 less than another stock priced at $10? This question highlights a point that often trips up beginning investors: The per-share price of a stock is thought to convey some sense of value relative to other stocks.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, except for its use in some calculations, the per-share price is virtually meaningless to investors doing fundamental analysis. If you follow the technical analysis route to stock selection, it’s a different story, but for now let’s stick with fundamental analysis.
The reason we aren’t concerned with per-share price is that it is always changing and, since each company has a different number of outstanding shares, it doesn’t give us a clue as to the value of the company. For that figure, we need the market capitalization or market cap number.
Determining the Market Cap
The market cap is found by multiplying the per-share price by the total number of outstanding shares. This number gives you the total value of the company or, stated another way, what it would cost to buy the whole company on the open market.
Here’s an example:
Stock price: $50
Outstanding shares: 50 million
Market cap: $50 x 50,000,000 = $2.5 billion
To prove our opening sentence, look at this second example:
Stock price: $10
Outstanding shares: 300 million
Market cap: $10 x 300,000,000 = $3 billion
This is how you should look at these two companies for evaluation purposes. Their per-share prices tell you nothing by themselves.
What You Can Learn From Market Cap
What does market cap tell you? First, it gives you a starting place for evaluation. When looking at a stock, it should always be in a particular context. For example, how does the company compare to others of a similar size in the same industry?
The market generally classifies stocks into three categories:
Small Cap: under $1 billion
Mid Cap $1: $10 billion
Large Cap: $10 billion plus
Some analysts use different numbers and others add micro caps and mega caps. You can talk to financial experts about their particular preferences, but what’s most important point is to understand the value of comparing companies of similar size during your evaluation. You will also use market cap in your screens when looking for a certain size company to balance your portfolio.
Per Share Price Is Not as Important Market Cap Conclusion
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